Heart­break a source of in­spi­ra­tion

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Pat Rooney

BOUL­DER» The var­i­ous Colorado men’s bas­ket­ball alums on Team Colorado dealt with last year’s dis­ap­point­ment and heart­break in their own per­sonal ways.

Be­ing, for the large part, a group of sea­soned pro­fes­sion­als, most of them did their best to quickly for­get the se­ries of mis­cues that led to de­feat in the fi­nale of The Bas­ket­ball Tour­na­ment last sum­mer. Even so, for­get­ting the loss of the tour­na­ment’s $2 million jack­pot was more dif­fi­cult.

Mar­cus Hall, one of the cat­a­lysts of last year’s stir­ring sum­mer run, took a far dif­fer­ent ap­proach. As he pre­pares to again com­pete along­side his for­mer CU team­mates, Hall has com­mit­ted ev­ery turnover, missed shot, and gen­eral mis­take to memory, ea­ger to use this year’s TBT as an op­por­tu­nity to change his­tory.

“To be hon­est, I can’t re­ally say that I’m over it. I’m still hold­ing on to that as far as fire and mo­ti­va­tion,” Hall said. “I know peo­ple on the team have said they haven’t watched the game, and they can’t watch the game. I’m the to­tal op­po­site. I’ve prob­a­bly seen it 20 times.

“I know ev­ery pos­ses­sion and at what time ev­ery­thing hap­pened. Ev­ery lit­tle thing. I just try to see where we went wrong. At the end of the day we gave our­selves a chance to win two million dol­lars. Some­times the ball doesn’t go in, or a call doesn’t go your way. That’s what hap­pened. But we gave our­selves a chance, and I’m ex­tremely proud of that.”

Hall’s play was a big rea­son why Team Colorado had that chance a year ago, with his abil­ity to get into the lane and cre­ate open looks either for him­self or his team­mates prov­ing to be one of the team’s go-to as­sets.

“We knew what we were go­ing to do this year as far as prac­tice, and how many days, and how many prac­tices we wanted to get on those days and what the ob­jec­tive is,” Hall said. “In the end, we’re all a year more ex­pe­ri­enced. It’s un­for­tu­nate you can al­most elim­i­nate maybe 20 teams (in TBT) be­cause they don’t un­der­stand the se­ri­ous­ness of it. We were a vic­tim of that the first year (in 2015). We un­der­stood the level of com­pe­ti­tion and what was go­ing to be thrown at us. We take it a lit­tle more se­ri­ous to give our­selves a chance.”

Hall, who spent his fi­nal sea­son with the Buffs in 2007-08, re­mains fourth all­time at CU with 423 ca­reer as­sists. His as­sist to­tal from each of his fi­nal three sea­sons at CU re­main among the top 20 sin­gle-sea­son per­for­mances in pro­gram his­tory, and he is just one of six CU play­ers to rank among the Buffs’ top 10 all­time lead­ers in both as­sists and steals (Hall is 10th with 140).

Hall’s pro­fes­sional ca­reer has taken him to Bul­garia, Italy, Turkey, and the NBA D-league, and he spent this past year with a club in Venezuela. While in­juries ham­pered Hall’s abil­ity to build on last sum­mer’s TBT per­for­mance, he has no plans to end his pro­fes­sional ca­reer any time soon.

“It was a dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion for me last year,” said Hall, who turns 32 in Au­gust. “I tried to wait and see if I could get a deal that I hadn’t nec­es­sar­ily had be­fore, and it just didn’t come through. I waited and waited and waited, and I guess the wait­ing kind of took my body out of in-sea­son mode.

“I think every­body knows if I can play un­til I’m 50, I’ll play un­til 50. I’ve al­ways said if I can get 10 out of this I’d be ex­tremely, ex­tremely blessed. I’ll say this — I’ll play un­til 37, 38, 39 if I can still play at a high level.”

While The Bas­ket­ball Tour­na­ment opened Satur­day with first-round games in Philadel­phia and Char­lotte, Team Colorado, the top seed in the West Re­gion, doesn’t play un­til a July 15 date in Las Ve­gas.

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